04 January 2016

On the march- Wisdom from the road 002

The more time I spend rucking the more time I have alone to think.  Here are some of those thoughts.

Today here in South Central PA it was 30 degrees with an average wind of 17 degrees creating a windchill of around 17 degrees. Face it, most people unless they have to don't spend a lot of time outside in extreme temperatures.  Sage hunting wisdom is that you take most of your layers off on the way to your stand so as to not sweat on the way it.  Because if you sweat on the move and then come to a stand still you will be very uncomfortable, and possibly hypothermic because being wet and cold and be a death sentence.

In most cases the uninitiated will over dress for being on the move.  This situation can be made worse by something that would other wise keep you warm and comfy, it is called piping.  Basically piping is wearing layers so that wind and cold have to make one or more U-turns to get your body.  For example- you put on your socks, and then your long johns over them and our cover pants over that.  This creates one U turn, if you tuck your long johns into your socks then two U-turns are created.  The more U-turns that cold has to make to get in, and heat has to make to get out.  The second part of piping is the use of draw cords and adjustable cuffs.

When you wear a pack you are adding additional piping because of the waist best, shoulder straps, and chest strap.  This means that heat will be trapped and you will sweat in those areas.

Due to my Germanic/Celtic heritage I find I am about 10-15 degrees warmer than other people.  For that reason, unless I am on the motorcycle it is shorts or a kilt no matter the temp or weather.  As long as my feet, hands, core, and head are dry and warm I am comfortable.

Today I wore a base/wicking layer in the form of a long sleeve Polartec top, an insulation layer of Light weight Under Armor Fleece, topped off  with a windproof layer of a windshirt from Propper. Although mine is older than the one in the link and a pull over, I have found this thing indefensible.    You can wear it over what I did today or put enough layers under it to look like the Michelin man.  This is a must have piece of kit.

Today was also the first time I really got to try out my new Mechanix Fastfit Insulated gloves.  I am already in love with these gloves.  They are reasonably warm while still providing great great dexterity for things like adjusting gear and weapons manipulations.  I had no idea they ever existed until I saw them on the Mechanix website.  Glad I found them.

To top it off I also wear a beanie, the brand of which I cannot recall like now.  Your head is your body's smoke stack.  Cover it up and keep the heat in, uncover it and you vent the body.  This is in no small part to the head being extremely vascular at the surface.  This is always my first option to bring my temp up or down to stay comfortable.  Let's discuss comfortable.

The state of being comfortable in the outdoors, especially in extreme temperatures is really on a grading scale.  Only with experience will you learn how to dress for activities in the outdoors.  Here I will narrow it down to the very basics-

NEVER wear cotton up against your skin, this is especially true for the feet, groin, hands, armpits, and head/neck.  If you do you can expect to be very uncomfortable very fast and possibly hypothermic.  Many a person has started out on a day hike that rand out of day when the sun went down, leaving them freezing from the sweat of the day.

Base layer- wicking layer to draw moisture off of you skin to the insulation layer.

Insulation layer- can range from a t-shirt to several layers of insulation layers from fleece to wool.  Just keep in mind that unlike wool, fleece looses its insulating properties when wet.

Wind/waterproof layer- this is the last layer put on.  Should be large enough to be able to fit several layers underneath if needed.  Try to find something with arm pit/side vents to allow airflow for comfort.

More to follow.

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